Atomic: Does it learn from your play style?
Seth: No, it’s not a learning thing.
Atomic: It’s not sentient?
Seth: No, it’s not quite that complex. It is complex, though. Certainly it’s weighted differently for different objects, different characters to make sure that… because things that are breakable like a glass or a vase or a bottle in the world, we want to help the player aim at those, too. But if a combatant is running at you, we don’t want those things to be considered with equal weight because clearly the combatant is the thing you care about shooting more than the bottle, right. So we have to do things like weight it so that, all thing considered equal, if you can shoot at an NPC or a bottle, it’s going to kind of bias the NPC. But because the reticule kind of hovers over that, if you mean to shoot the bottle, the reticule kind of hovers over the NPC, so if you see, ‘Oh, I don’t want to shoot that guy,’ you can kind of start guiding the camera over and then, as the weights change and all the maths, all the algorhtims for the auto-aim compute, it’s like, ‘Oh, now the bottle is a more appropriate target,’ and it will shift. But on PC you can turn off auto-aim. If we were all rooted in console development, we’d be like, ‘Of course we’re not going to turn auto-aim off. Why would you give the player an option to screw themselves?’ Also, some players just don’t want auto-aim, especially when they have a mouse.
Atomic: Yeah, so, it seems to lend itself really well to the left hand, right hand, left trigger, right trigger configuration. Is it safe to assume that on PC it will be left mouse button, right mouse button for the hands, by default?
Seth: We went with so many different models of that. We had the left mouse button is the left hand and the right mouse button is the right hand, but then that was confusing because the sword is the primary weapon and the left hand is the alternate weapon, but on the mouse it’s kind of mirrored. We tried so many different ways, and we had a system once where it was the left mouse button is your sword and the Control button, left Control, is your left hand. That way it maps to your hands, right. Your left hand is controlling your left hand. But, ultimately, it’s really hard to make people happy with those things, so on the PC it’s just mappable. You can do whatever you want. But I think it ships with left button is the sword, right button is the alternate weapon and Control is block.
Atomic: Is there any specific PC love that we can expect?
Seth: We have a lot of options for the PC that just aren’t going to be on the console. Options for additional cool graphics things like rat shadows. That and the ability to remap keys.
Atomic: Which is pretty much essential, isn’t it?
Seth: Yeah, I would think so.
Atomic: Going back to the sword. Did you find any challenges with a first-person perspective and depth, particularly as it relates to melee combat? There seems to be such an emphasis on melee combat, particularly fighting with swords and choking people out. My experience with FPSs in the past is that there’s always this feeling that you don’t know how close you are to a target or if you’re too far away to connect. Is there a certain amount of range where it activates and you lunge, or how have you dealt with that?
Seth: Yeah, that’s an interesting question. It’s interesting that you pick up on that because doing melee for first-person is really difficult and, fortunately, Arkane did Dark Messiah and Arx Fatalis before that, so they have a pedigree with first-person melee, and they’ve dealt with a lot of these problems and solved these challenges in the past. So we’re standing on the shoulders of giants. You’ve got to remember that the team that built Dishonored grew a lot from the teams that built those other games. So a lot of us are just inheriting, just by being near those guys, a lot of the systems they’ve developed. And so we leverage a lot of that, and it’s things like, you don’t think about it, but when you’re running towards a guy and you’re swinging your sword, you expect to connect a lot sooner than you would if you were just standing still and swinging your sword.
And so we do things like… we do very subtle little things like the length of the actual sword’s collision actually changes depending on how quickly you’re moving. And it sounds kind of weird that we do that, and it’s very subtle, but suddenly the player isn’t whiffing as much, and they just feel like the combat connects more. Because often, what happens, by the time they’ve hit the button to do the attack, they are within range. But sometimes they’re just whiffing on their way, and by the time they get there, they’re like waiting to do the next one, and now they’re being attacked. So one of the things that we do to make the combat feel like it’s connecting, to make it feel visceral, is play with the length of those collisions; and for the NPCs as well.